Do You Really Need A New Year Detox?
It’s that time of year, when many of us are considering a detox. To rid ourselves of the excesses of the festive season by losing some of those extra kilos picked up on holiday. But is a detox the way to go? And if so, what is the right way to approach your detox?
Many specialists would argue that we do not need to cleanse, as the human body is actually designed to be an efficient self-cleansing unit. Indeed, the kidneys and liver are generally quite effective at filtering and eliminating most ingested toxins.,
However, fewer argue against a short fast, which is an efficient way to give your body a break. In fact, fasting has been linked to longevity in some formidable ageing studies of populations with above average longevity.
Also there is a growing acceptance that we are now living in an environment which has evolved faster than our genes can keep up, with many toxic influences. These toxins are in our food, cleaning products, cosmetics, sun care products, air and water, plus our body naturally produces its own waste products.
So if you have overdone it over the festive period, then considering all the factors, going on a detox is actually a pretty good idea to get your body and mind back on track.
The benefits of a cleanse
Here are some of the claimed benefits you will get from embarking on a cleanse:
Improved function of your kidneys and liver
Increased energy and vitality
Arousing the mind and spirit
Quick jump-start to a weight-loss program
Improved ability to fight off various diseases
How to detox?
Firstly, if you are going to give your body a break, then adopt a simple programme and not a complex one. Detox diets vary.
A good way to start your detox, though, is with a one day fast of water with lemon, taken hot or cold. Then from day two, you can move into a detox eating plan of fresh vegetables, nuts, freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juice and certain whole grains and legumes.
In this programme, which you should follow for a minimum of a week, you cannot drink any coffee, tea, alcohol, packaged or boxed juices, sodas, or consume any sugar, honey or similar sweeteners. Also you have to give red meat, eggs, chicken and fish a miss. From week two you can add a little fish and then by week five you can move back to consuming animal protein, although dietary guidelines recommend a diet higher in fish and less red meat and animal proteins like chicken.
During the cleanse, you cannot substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners (in fact these are really unhealthy for you). In addition, some detox diets advocate using herbs and other supplements along with colon cleansing (enemas) to empty the intestines. However, unless you have a professional assisting you or have received specialist advice, you should really not just take supplements that you think will help.
If you’re considering a detox diet and have any pre-existing medical conditions, then you must check in with your doctor first.
What food to eat?
There are many variations of the detox theme. However, we like this basic plan from VeryWellFit. They recommend a plan that includes an antioxidant-packed cleansing vegetables and fruits along with high-fiber foods like whole grains, nuts, and seeds. As you build your diet around these foods, make sure to eat in moderation.
In addition, you can round out your detox diet with plant-based protein and probiotic-rich fermented foods such as miso. Here are some additional ideas from VeryWellFit, to help with your meal planning for the week
Eat locally-grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Try a salad with seasonal vegetables, whole fruit, smoothies, juices (such as beet, carrot, apple and ginger juice or green juice).
Opt for recipes with variety. Try to get a variety of vegetables on your plate, such as dark leafy greens, beets, artichokes, onions, carrots, and cucumbers. Add cooked chickpeas, avocado, brown rice, baked sweet potato, hemp seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, and other foods rich in protein, fiber, and fat. Better yet, look for recipes that combine a variety of plant-based ingredients like Sweet Potato and Red Cabbage Slaw.
Enjoy balanced meals. Each meal should ideally include some protein, healthy fat, high-fiber, whole grain carbs, and fruits and vegetables.
If you tend to eat the same thing for breakfast, we suggest you try quinoa, it’s high in protein and a filling breakfast, oatmeal, is great, as is a smoothie with fresh berries, a breakfast bowl, or chia pudding.
Some snack ideas include White Bean and Cashew Dip or Roasted Red Beet Hummus with vegetables or Cumin-Lime Roasted Chickpeas.
Lunch or dinner
A perfect meal might include a portobello mushroom cap brushed with olive oil and baked, Butternut Squash Soup, One-pot Vegan Chili, Curried Chickpeas, Baked Honey-Mustard Salmon, or Black Bean Arugula Tostadas.
Just because you’re on a cleanse, doesn’t mean to say you cannot exercise. In fact, it is even more important in this phase to keep moving. Gentle exercises, like restorative Yoga and meditative walks are very helpful. If you can swim, this is also a great low impact, high cardio work out to get and get your circulation moving.
What to expect?
For the first two days, you will most likely get a headache as your body is detoxifying. Do not reach out for any medicated relief as this is counter productive. The headache will pass.
Detox diets that severely limit protein or that require fasting, for example, can result in fatigue. Long-term fasting can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies and is not recommended.
The first three days of a detox are always the hardest, but once you hit day four you will start feeling great and by day seven you will feel like conquering the world. This is due to the fact that a detox diet eliminates highly processed foods that have solid fats and added sugar. Simply avoiding these high-calorie low-nutrition foods for a few days may be part of why people feel better. You must stay hydrated, so carry water with you. It also helps to drink water, when you are feeling peckish.
A sudden increase in fiber-heavy fruit and vegetables may result in lead to bloating, gas, and possibly diarrhea. This may be one reason that people believe that detox diets ‘cleanse’ the digestive system.
Detox diets are not recommended for teenagers, pregnant women, or people with health conditions because of the danger from not getting enough calories and proteins.
Detox diets are only meant to be used for a short period a week to four weeks maximum. It is really important to exercise during this time as well.
Colon cleansing, which is often recommended as part of a detox plan, can cause cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting. Dehydration also be exacerbated with colon cleansing.
A detox, is not a long term diet. It is purely a kick starter to get you back on track. For lasting results, you need to eat a healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. There is growing scientific evidence that a diet that reduces or excludes red meat, processed meat and chicken is healthier for you.
If you do choose to do a detox diet, you may want to use it as a way to jump-start making healthier food choices going forward every day.
Some people are able to detox longer than a week and up to a month and this is fine so long as the food in the detox provides the body with a balance of nutrients.
The most important detox tools, are actually about changing your lifestyle in general. So limit your exposure to chemicals, try to eat organic foods, grass fed beef and food that is not manufactured using tons of additives. Reducing your consumption of alcohol will change your life for the better and removing sugars and colorants will also ensure that your body has the best chance of good health.
.Other ways to detox your life
Detoxing your house and especially your bedroom cupboards is a powerful way to cleanse your body. It’s also a great way to start a new year, by donating what you no longer need to a charity who does!
Movement is also key; the lungs and skin are major detox organs, so a sweating and deep breathing on a daily basis does wonders for getting the gunk out.
The solution to pollution is dilution; good-quality water will wash out that waste and hydrate your cells. So keep the water flowing and stay hydrated.
A detox is a good way to create discipline in your life around bad habits. It is very satisfying when you feel and see the results of taking good care of your body when it needs it most.